An education can be earned through various means. Just ask Brogan Waldner.
Now a registered professional forest technologist, the 26-year-old wasn’t always sure she was on the right career path.
Initially, she started out taking political science courses in Saskatoon. Though it didn’t take long for her to realize that wasn’t the right choice.
Brogan left that program behind and after she spent the summer at her family cabin contemplating her next move, she decided on schooling that genuinely appealed to her interests.
She moved to Prince Albert and enrolled in the integrated resource management program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
The two-year program offers perspective on balancing the environmental, economic and social factors of natural resource development. It combines science and a love of the outdoors – a perfect mix for what Brogan was searching for.
She graduated from the program five years ago and is now a planning forester for Carrier Forest Products.
While in school, Brogan received a brief hands-on introduction to the industry as a summer student. Her first summer was spent measuring forest plots at various life stages as part of reforestation efforts and growth-and-yield modelling. Her second summer was spent collecting data on various insects and diseases, including monitoring mountain pine beetle and Dutch elm disease in southern Saskatchewan.
While each experience played a role in Brogan’s education, she hadn’t yet discovered a position within the industry that ideally suited her.
But the two years she spent studying political science didn’t go to waste, either. Brogan was introduced to stakeholder engagement processes while working in northern Saskatchewan.
“People management is a big part of my job now. I meet with different stakeholders all the time,” she said. “My background (in political science) seems to have married nicely with what I do now. It worked out really well for me.
“My career started out in the field, but I still had this yearning for a different type of challenge. It’s one thing to challenge yourself and flag trees when it’s -30C. But I wanted to challenge myself in the office and be a part of something bigger.”
Brogan says 75 per cent of her working days are spent in an office setting. When she’s not in her office she’s meeting with concerned stakeholders, outfitters, trappers, berry pickers and hunters, among other individuals or groups curious about a proposed tree cut that could impact their personal interests and livelihoods.
“I love my job,” Brogan said. “I’m challenged in more ways than one. When I first started it was more of a physical challenge. Now, there’s more of a complex challenge in trying to integrate an annual operating plan into a 20-year plan. That is extremely challenging because you’re trying to achieve a balance of environmental management, social license and economics.”